In what could have been S.P.H.I.N.X’s – from here on out referred to as SPHINX because if I ain’t typing S.H.I.E.L.D. I sure as hell ain’t typing S.P.H.I.N.X. – return to glory, “SPHINX Rising” signals the end of the illustrious organization. Originally the weekly adversaries of O.S.I., the COBRA to their G.I. Joe if you will, the SPHINX that appeared on The Venture Bros. wasn’t the original SPHINX at all, but rather the cover operation for ex-OSI agents like Brock and Shore Leave, fighting the villains even OSI couldn’t touch. That was until Colonel Gather’s reinstated all those ex-OSI agents and they up and left SPHINX headquarters, currently adjacent to the Venture Compound, in the hands of Gary.
Y’know, Gary? Henchmen 21 who when his faithful buddie, 24, was killed in action became the ultimate henchmen only to later leave The Monarch, join SPHINX, and in Brock, Shore Leave, and Mile High’s absence become the sole member of SPHINX. He’s a man without a mission, that is, until he decides to continue the work of SPHINX and become a one man crusade on crime. Except he’s terrible. I mean really awful. In his first mission he manages to completely blow a covert operation of OSI’s by killing two of the four guys in Long Division’s gang. The two who weren’t Brock and Shore Leave undercover.
Sure, one of them, Short Division, was an an eight year old who smoked two packs a day and shot his henchmen when they cussed, an asshole if you ask Shore Leave, but they needed someone alive to learn the location of Long Division’s hideout. Gary, shamed and with his crossbow – okay, Brock’s crossbow – taken away, begins his hero’s journey. It’s a not-so-subtle theme I’m noticing for Season 5: zeroes becoming heroes. The season opener had Billy, Gary, and Dean all “manning-up” and last week it was Hank as The Bat. In “SPHINX Rising” Gary gets one step further to discovering his destiny.
Oh, and speaking of destiny, Hank is ready to discover his, too. Full of the eager enthusiasm that is so Hank, he answers Gary’s Craiglist ad and joins the team taking the moniker, Destiny. (That’s more of a girl from Rock of Love’s name, but whatever.) Which in his ineptitude as a parent Rusty overhears Hank on the phone with Gary and immediately assumes Destiny is a woman. A woman Hank isn’t ready for, he needs to be with a Pam or a Pamela. (Or a Pammy. Pammy!? The boy’s not ready for a damn Pammy!) It’s a brief moment of classic, almost Three’s Company-esque confusion with hilarious payoff. (He’s ready to enter Destiny, and I’m going to show him how. I’ve done it already.)
Which brings us to an interesting bit of male gaze switcheroo. Hank as Destiny, in a sexy golden strength suit, is constantly depicted in the usual exploitative fashion most women are shown in movies and video games. Particularly of the action and science fiction genre. Every time Hank’s talking to someone else we’re given a shot like this,
That classic butt shot. You know you’ve seen it, but this time, our gaze is looking at a teenage boy’s butt that happens to be inside a contoured, sexy lady strength suit. Sort of puts an interesting spin on the typical female objectification, doesn’t it?
Hank only found the strength suit when he and Gary’s other SPHINX recruits discovered a storage room full of old SPHINX uniforms. Oh, and those other SPHINX recruits? They happen to be old team SPHINX. I mean, old, as in the guys who used to fight OSI and somehow survived The Pyramid Wars. And by discovered, I mean they knew exactly where the uniforms were because this all an elaborate ruse to regain all their SPHINX gear and launch one last attack on OSI. One of The Venture Bros.‘ strengths has always been how quickly they can establish characters based off our preconceived notions and a few minutes of clever exposition. Within the moments we’re introduced to old team SPHINX – Windsong, Diamond Backdraft, and SPHINX Commander – we already know they’re washed up, worthless, that SPHINX Commander lost his girlfriend, The Countess and former occupant of Hank’s strength suit, to some guy who looks like Criss Angel, and they’re looking to go out with a bang. Which might have something to do with the cyanide chips implanted in their brains and in about a year’s time they’ll be dead.
So, Gary fucks up, but he and Hank, but mostly Brock and Shore Leave, manage to thwart old team SPHINX and in a bit of happenstance SPHINX – the organization, the headquarters, everything – is obliterated. See, while all this SPHINX crap was going down The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch infiltrated the Venture Compound and planted bombs throughout the sewers. And by infiltrated I mean they disguised themselves as beaver inspectors with special Scooby doobie Doo magic masks and had Rusty let them in. Hatred, still playing mother, boobs and all, tries to bond with Dean by having him help in removing the bombs. Thinking they were planted there by Gary, because he clearly must still be working for The Monarch, they leave the box of bombs at the front door of SPHINX ding-dong-ditch style. Boom. No more SPHINX headquarters, no more flying SPHINX cruiser, no more SPHINX.
Seeing how bummed Gary is over his latest colossal failure, Brock returns the crossbow. (You work it like a wookiee.) And since it appears Brock takes a shine to poor Gary I wouldn’t rule out him becoming a junior OSI recruit or something in the near future. The guys knows a thing or two about super villains, and as he demonstrates in an earlier scene he can expertly call out The Monarch’s attack plans on sight. That’s surely valuable to an organization like OSI. But speaking of The Monarch, we leave him suffering from a bit of shock. Still disguised as a beaver inspector – and yes, the t-shirt is for that kind of beaver inspector – Rusty shares with him a photo album containing a picture of a young Rusty and Monarch playing together. As their parents look on. Yes, them, together, as children! Dun, dun, DUN!
– “Agh! That’s SO Raven!” Said by Shore Leave, exasperatedly, after learning it’s Gary who fucks up their under cover operation.
– “I’m getting real sick of that ex-henchmen being a better bodyguard than that ex-villain I hired. It’s so depressing when you say it out loud.” Rusty makes an observation that perfectly sums up the show. I mean, that’s it, that’s the show. And Rusty is just trapped in this entirely too predictable, depressing life. The only hope is Hank and Dean can escape this fate.
– “I got my money on acid, or maybe a magnet kind of thing.” “Zap, sizzle, acid magnet!” I’m actually a little bummed we didn’t see the acid magnet in action, because really, what the hell is that!?
– Also, how disturbing is it to hear Dr. Mrs. The Monarch’s voice coming out of a man?
The new t-shirt this week is of the lovely, Destiny. Make sure you order one before the week’s out as it’ll never be sold again! Unless you find someone selling bootlegs a few months from now.
The Venture Bros. airs on [adult swim] Sunday nights at midnight!